TYRES DEAL SUGDEN A KNOCK OUT BLOW
After Tim Sugden and Iradj Alexander had again run in the top few of the GT2 field in FIA GT event at Dijon in France in Saturdays practice and qualifying a tyre failure in Sunday's race caused their first failure to finish of the season. Their JMB-GruppeM Ferrari F430 had run in second or third place in free practice and 4th in qualifying was just 0.508 seconds from pole in very busy session when traffic caused problems. In the morning warm-up session Tim was the quickest GT2 runner proving a good race setup.
The first lap saw Tim's #55 Ferrari move up to second as Mika Salo (AF Corse Ferrari) and Andrew Kirkaldy (Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari) both left the track whilst contesting a place and the next 20 laps became a close battle between Tim and Jamie Melo in the other AF Corse run, factory backed F430 with the two never more that 2 seconds apart. During this battle each driver put in their fastest race laps with Melo on 1:20.189 and Sugden on 1:20.326 with Miko Salo also lapping quickly after his early mistake recording a best of 1:20.308 showing just how close the three F430s are.
This was all to no avail however as during lap 20 the left rear tyre of the JMB Ferrari blew as the car crested a rise and the tyre appeared on later inspection to have left the rim and damaged the rear suspension. Tim was stranded out on the circuit so no repair was possible and the race ended there for them. Melo went on to win and Tim later reflected that he felt he would have at least stayed with the Italian car and as Iradj had proved the faster of the two second drivers in the cars a win or another podium was a distinct possibility.
The JMB-GruppeM pairing remain joint 5th in the championship alongside Collard and Riccitelli in the works Porsche although the gap to 4th is now extended to 9.5 points. The Porsche also retired from the race with recurring blowouts on the same left rear wheel of their Porsche, a problem that they have experienced several times this season with the Pirelli tyres used by both teams.
In two weeks time the FIA series moves to Mugello in Italy for round 7 of the series